We took a 12/28 tour with Mike. We met the group (8 total) on McDougal and 6th Ave and proceeded to have one of the best walking tours ever. My wife and I are no strangers to guided tours but we were immediately impressed by how personable and knowledgeable Mike was (we later learned he was a native of Manhattan). We kicked right off with slices at Artichoke, including face-time with the owner as he and Mike educated us on the finer points of pizzacraft and pizza history in NY. This was delicious pie but it was just the start. We headed out to the new Kettle of Fish bar on Christopher street and on the way stopped at Washington Square Park for a round of history including the Hanging Tree, the Succession of the West Village, and the drinking escapades of noted NYC literary figures. While we asked Mike questions (his knowledge of the area's history was really deep and broad) a crowd gathered to watch a huge red hawk feast on something he'd caught at the base of the Hanging Tree just a few feet from us--one of those moments you really want to have a camera ready for).
Before we had time to feel the cold we were at the Kettle of Fish. This was a new locale but as Mike poured us glasses of microbrew by the fireplace, he filled us in on the history of the Kettle and its role in the Village's beat culture (apparently it figured prominently in a feud between Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol). Again Mike's knowledge of the bar's history and the Village's ties to the bar were really dazzling and this whole tour felt like being shown around town by an old friend.
We made our next two pizza stops back to back at Joe's on Carmine street and John's on Bleecker respectively (their addresses I can't remember), for a more typical NYC slice and a brick-oven slice in that order. I could see why Mike saved John's brick oven slice for last...it was the best of the three (one word: crust), but I absolutely liked the other two for their own merits. To be fair, Joe's and Artichoke's were also far better than any of the random joints you might grab a slice at in the city.
We wound up the tour at the Whitehorse Tavern--mugs of good beer in a cozy and clearly historied place while Mike regaled us with its rich literary history. We actually stayed a bit after we'd Q&A'ed Mike thoroughly (by this point the beer was making us all chipper and more inquisitive than the cold air outside had). Through it all Mike seemed to genuinely feed off our energy and the more we questioned and quipped, the more stories and lore he had for us. This was really a great time and I would highly recommend the tour to anybody who wants a fun eating, drinking and pop history experience.
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